Blindish But I Can See

I am only one of many “blind bloggers” on the internet.  We tell our stories and try to educate and inspire others while we make our own way through this world.  I try to put my experience into words, so that people can know that a diagnosis that includes deteriorating vision is not a death sentence, so that people will understand that life can be fun and fruitful even with low vision.  Other bloggers talk about technological advances or their journeys with guide dogs or their photography or art or sports.  I check in on my blind blogger friends regularly.  They often put my experiences into words when my own words fail me.

Recently blogger Rachel Dora Ann wrote a great post.  She talked about the labels “legally blind” and “visually impaired.”  She goes on to say

So the argument to all this is simply ,.. blindish. I am centrally blind, peripherally blindish, mostly color blind depth blind,.. so I’m blindish.

But i can see.

its just not what you see, to me Ive grown to think everything i see and the way i see it is normal.
this is how i think most in my same position feel. so to use all these names to explain all these titles are really for you, you who are sighted because we feel like we are  normal, we have vision we aren’t blind we are just seeing a different perspective that you all miss. having too much or all vision may in fact distract some some amazingly beautiful things in this world

” we exist in beauty but choose to ignore it”

When I read her words, I was thrilled.  Yes!  We feel like we are normal.  We see a perspective that others might miss.  Maybe some people have too much vision, which distracts them from the beautiful things in this world.

I never would have put it quite this way, but I have had this thought many times.  When I had better eyesight, I was so busy and preoccupied and ignorant and self-centered that I often failed to see the grace and beauty that are abundant in the world.  Now, even though my eyesight is bad (blindish – I love that word), I am aware of the beauty around me.  Maybe it’s because I move more slowly.  Maybe it’s because, having lost vision, I am more grateful for everything that I do have.  Maybe, as my blogger friend says, I am just seeing from a different perspective.  I have a hard time putting it into words.  I think I see the essence of things more clearly, now that the visual clutter of good eyesight is gone.  I see into things, instead of focusing on the surface.  Instead of noticing what they look like, I see them in their full glory.  That is why I now see beauty that I previously dismissed.  That is why I see grace so evident in the world.

I have a lot to learn from Rachel Dora Ann.  She goes on to say that

what ever title you deem upon me as fitting it is all a matter of perspective.which is why i choose to change my art style years back. i realized after a horrible experimental trial  i participated in that all my art was made like i “could see everything, trying to compensate and look like other artists. I hated every last piece. I made a conscious decision to paint the way in which i saw everything somethings exaggerated but from my visual perspective, light and shadow, with out depth no more faking to try to paint like i saw what i couldn’t just plain me.It was liberating! Its become my goal to reach out with understanding from that point on.

Maybe this is why I have been so unhappy with my attempts at photography.  I am trying so hard to make my photos perfectly focused, as if they are taken by a photographer with perfect eyesight.  Maybe I need to let go of that and work on finding a way to capture that beautiful essence, that basic underlying perfection that has little to do with sharp focus.  Maybe I should make photos of what I really see.  I remember some of my blind photography friends suggesting that I allow my photos to appear out of focus.  I think I am beginning to understand what they meant.  I remember that, when I first began attempting blind photography, I made this photo to try to show flowers as I see them.

my view tulips

I really loved this photo, but it was one of only two attempts to portray things as I see them.  I quickly returned to focusing on trying to make “perfect” pictures.  Maybe I should play around with making photos like this a bit.  Rachel Dora Ann’s art is beautiful because she creates art from her own real perspective.  Maybe I need to learn to do this, be more authentic (and less realistic) in my photography.

In closing her post, Rachel talks about the importance of her art.  She tells the story of an art show she presented, where a blind boy and his mother visited.

The boy touched the pieces and viewed the way i had always wanted them to be seen. before they left she turned sweetly, tearfully”thank you”, and left. When i was in school they said all id ever be was a telemarketer, or work in a office for those with disabilities, .. no one ever said i could be an artist or anything i wanted to be.i cried because somewhere i hope in my art he saw that he has more out there for him then sitting squinting in a fluorescent lighted office til he grows old or making phone calls to be who don’t need it.I really hope i gave him the hope to follow whatever path he chooses.

Wow!  I was crying by this point in her post.  She put my thoughts into words so perfectly.  This is what I try to say through my blog.  Low vision does not mean that your dreams have to end.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t grow and learn and be anything you want to be.  It does not mean you can’t be an artist and help other people see beauty.  Losing vision is not the end.  For me, it has been a new beginning to a wonderful life.  For me, being blindish has meant having my eyes opened, really opened, to a whole new glorious world of beauty.

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10 thoughts on “Blindish But I Can See

  1. You’re as eloquent as ever in touching on something I hadn’t really articulated, but had felt nonetheless.

    I was surprised when another visually impaired person said that some of my photos were blurry, and she’d clearly missed what I was driving at. Actually the pictures in question were taken as I walked along with a video camera in heavy drizzle and with a high wind blowing. Anyone’s photos would have been blurry unless the photographer could achieve a very high shutter speed. To me, those photos had a feeling of movement, which was exactly what I wanted. OK, they were very much in my style, which will never earn me a place in the National Geographic Gallery!

    Looking at your tulips, yes, I hope you take many more photos in the way you see them. That photo is very vivid to me, and does look familiar as the way I, too, see the world at times. My friend, who’s a much better photographer than me in the conventional sense, takes macro shots – I like to tell him I take macular shots! As I commented in Rachel’s blog, maybe we both have legitimate, but different, ways of working.

    Thanks for sparking off a very encouraging and inspiring train of thought.

    • Thank you so much for your comment and your encouragement to experiment along these lines with my photography. I feel excited about trying again. Rachel’s blog post really got me thinking and I am glad that her words excited you as well. I am so thankful for the low vision community I have found online. I think it is important that we support each other on our journeys. I thank you for your friendship.

  2. I amso truly truly touched to have you quote my post but more so that you “see” what i mean. The shadows and blurrs you think you have to erase, the “flaws” you think are holding your ophotography back are not flaws but a wonderful perspective of that beauty you need to share! Some times i have sighted people view my work now and say they see diffrent things, not always the figure. Then i tell them i really paint the shadows i see and the figure comes out.But in those they see what ever they are giong to see becauses art always envokes a diffrent response from every individuale who experiences it. Go on and make your photography and do it your way dont let your audience miss viewing those pieces in the unique and beautiful way that only you can capture!

  3. I have noticed a similar principle in a more general context: If there is but a little of something, that little is the more appreciated and becomes more known/familiar/deeply understood. To take but one of many examples: The first few DVDs I bought in the late 90s, at the then outrageous prices, I watched at least half-a-dozen times each within the first year. If I buy a DVD today (at very different prices), it is one of many and rarely gets even three watchings within that time fram—some just one. I am, obviously, better off today, but the days of yore had their own advantages, most notably that each individual movie was so much better known.

    Similarly, it is often better to take a little and use it well, rather than to take a lot and use it wastefully—be it soap, special effects, or words.

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